The Need For Speed: Should You Draft Billy Hamilton?

Everywhere you look Billy Hamilton is projected not only to lead the majors in stolen bases this season, but to do so by a wide margin, making his an attractive draft day target for fantasy owners. And, why not? After all, he did steal 330 bases over the past three minor league seasons, and he gave us a glimpse of what he can do at the major league level, stealing 13 bases in 13 games last year.

But, before you bid $26 (RotoWire Auction Value), or use your fifth or sixth round pick (based on his current ADP) to get him, you may want to consider the following?

- Hamilton hit just .256 and posted a .308 OBP in Triple-A in 2013, where he stuck out nearly 20 percent of the time

- He has played in just 13 major league games

- Although he stole 13 bases in those 13 games, he was used primarily as a pinch runner, with the sole purpose of stealing bases (he only started three games, and six of his stolen bases came in games in which he didn't have a single plate appearance)

- Sixty-two percent of his stolen bases came against teams in the bottom half of the league in terms of stolen bases allowed (Pittsburgh, Houston, Milwaukee)

Using our own RotoWire projections, as well as those of eight other fantasy sources, Hamilton's 2014 season plays out as follows:

At Bats: 491
Batting Average: .246
Stolen Bases: 56

Since 2000, 18 different players have stolen 50+ bases in a season a total of 36 times. Even if Hamilton manages to stick around the majors most or all of the season, history is not on his side:

- Only one player managed to steal 50+ bases with an average of .246 or lower (Scott Podsednik, .244, 2004)

- Only one player managed to steal 50+ bases with 491 or fewer At Bats (Willy Taveras, 479, 2008)

There is no question that Hamilton can run. But, can he hit and will he be given enough opportunities to prove it? So, before you go anointing Hamilton the next Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford or even Luis Castillo, ask yourself if you can afford an untested, one-category performer and, if so, at what cost?

Happy drafting!


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